Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book: Emmanuel Sougez, L’Éminence Grise

JTF (just the facts): Published in 1993 by Éditions Créaphis/Ministère de la Culture, France, in conjunction with an exhibition held at the Palais de Tokyo. Unpaginated with 60 black and white images. Includes essays in French by Marie-Loup Sougez and Sophie Rochard, with a bibliography and exhibition list. (Cover shot at right.)

Comments/Context: In our specific collecting genres, we tend to search far and wide for images that might be a match for our collection (regardless of how well known the photographer might be), and over the years, we have run across a few florals and nudes by the French photographer Emmanuel Sougez that seem to fit into our general aesthetic approach. I recently came across this book, and even though it is in French (and my college French is pretty rusty) and since we didn't have anything on the artist in our library, I thought it would be worth adding as reference.
Sougez was active between the wars, and had an affinity for straight photography, similar in concept to the New Objectivity in Germany or the f.64 group in America; as such his images make a good foil for work from both of these movements. This volume is filled with crisp table top still lifes of bottles, glassware, linens, feathers, fruit, and the like, interspersed with simple nudes emphasizing curves of form. A few portraits are also included, often dominated by the line of the subject's arms. Seeing more of Sougez' work collected in one place (via this book), I have come away generally impressed with his overall output. His low profile makes him one of the more under appreciated photographers from this artistically active period.
Collector’s POV: Artnet doesn't list any dealers who represent or have inventory for Emmanuel Sougez. I Photo Central (here) has a few images, although they are not particularly representative of his work. At auction, Sougez prints have been available from time to time in the past few years and have typically fetched between $3000 and $20000. For our particular collection, one of his nudes or floral still lifes from the early 1930s would be a good fit.

Transit Hub:
  • Art Institute of Chicago collection (here)
  • Luminous Lint profile (here)

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